Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ:

There is a lot of information contained on this page!  You will find answers to questions you have and answers to questions you never even thought to ask! 
Questions and answers are organized into categories to simplify your seach.  You may find some information under more than one heading.

Questions & Detailed Answers

Fees, Retainer, Cancellation

Do you require a retainer?


I do require a retainer to secure my services and it is $100. Without a retainer and a signed letter of agreement, my services are not secured. This $100 retainer is deducted from your total fee. The retainer is non-refundable.




Do you offer any discounts?


I offer all Active Duty Military Personnel, Veterans, and all First Responders a 10% discount on ceremony and rehearsal fees. Proof of service may be requested.




How do we pay you?


I prefer to receive payment via credit cards online via Stripe. I also accept cash. Final payment is due two weeks before your ceremony. I do not accept checks or PayPal for final payment. Final payments must be made by credit card or cash.

I will accept check or PayPal for retainers ONLY. If a check bounces, I expect you to pay for any additional fees I may incur. If you are interested in paying by check or PayPal, please ask for the necessary information.




We would like to meet with you before paying the retainer. Is this possible?


YES! If it is possible, I welcome the chance to meet at a mutually convenient time and location. I meet couples in restaurants, diners or coffee shops and as appropriate, at a ceremony site or venue. My favorite spot to meet is at a Panera location; I find that it is easy to chat over a cup of coffee there.

*I can also Skype or Facetime a couple. We can also use Zoom!




What is your cancellation policy?


If a ceremony (wedding or other) is cancelled 60 days prior to the scheduled date, I expect to be paid in full. The retainer fee of is non-refundable.


If cancelling is more than 60 days before the schedule date, I return any monies received beyond the retainer. The retainer fee ($100) is non-refundable.

If you are cancelling a wedding date, but still want to get married; I will do my best to accommodate a new wedding date for up to 6 months after your original ceremony date. I will apply the retainer and any other collected fees to this re-scheduled date. A new contract/ letter of agreement is required and additional fees may be apply if travel and other needs shift.




We are interested in working with you. What happens if you are already booked on our wedding day?


If I am not available on your wedding day, I will share the names of other colleagues with you. These colleagues are recommended because I believe they offer the same high quality, personal, professional and caring service.




Do you charge extra if I want to include a Sand Ceremony or another Unity Ceremony in my wedding ceremony?


No! I never charge extra if a couple includes a Unity Ceremony or readings in their wedding ceremony. If I am going to lead your wedding ceremony there is no reason to charge extra for a Sandy Ceremony, Wine Ceremony or any other Unity Ceremony. I make a commitment to you on your special day and that commitment is to help you create and have a meaningful ceremony. The number of words that I offer does not increase or decrease the cost of my services.

*I do not provide any of the accessories for any Unity Ceremonies, though. A couple is responsible for secure these items.




What are your fees? What do you charge for your services?


I provide a quality professional service. I offer the same support to couples who choose to elope and to couples who share their vows in front of 200 people. My fees are based on a number of factors relating to your request, including date, size of wedding celebration, location, travel considerations, preparation time and research.

I offer everyone that I work with unlimited email and phone support, as well as one face to face meeting to get to know one another. I do not charge more for a personalized ceremony. I do not charge more if you wish to include a Unity Candle ceremony or Sand ceremony, for example.

My wedding ceremony fees range from $200 to $450.

Fees for intimate weddings, elopements and micro-weddings depend on the date of the week they are scheduled, travel requirements and my availability. An elopement can be as low as $150 if the couple is willing to use a site close to my home. I do not perform ceremonies at my home.

I also offer a simple signing ceremony. My fee for this is $100, and it is based solely on the couple's willingness to meet me close to my home. This would allow couples to have a friend 'officiate their ceremony' while I sign the marriage license, guaranteeing that the marriage is legally recognized. I require complete payment for this service at the time a couples books with me. This fee is non-refundable, even if you cancel.

Baby Blessing/ Baptism ceremonies range from $175 to $250.

Memorials/ Funerals begin at $175.

Wedding rehearsals are available for an additional fee of $100.

Travel fees may be assessed due to the distance from my home.

If requested, I do offer pre-marital counseling/ coaching session. I charge $75 a session and work with couples to figure out how many sessions they prefer. I offer couples who request this type of support 1, 2 or 3 sessions.

I require a $100 non-refundable retainer to secure my services. This is subtracted from the total fee. Final payment is due two weeks before the ceremony date.


All fees are reviewed and discussed with couples and families after your initial contact with me. You will never be surprised by the fee. I email a detailed proposal to all couples; this clearly outlines what my fee. Additional costs, for rehearsal and travel, are clearly stated in this document.




What do we receive for the fee we pay you?


I offer support with ceremony planning, ceremony creation and leading the ceremony on your special day. For my fee, you receive my support from the start of the planning process to the day of your event. I offer unlimited support via phone and email. I meet with couples at least once face to face. Meetings are scheduled at a mutually convenient location and time. I will craft your personalized ceremony with your insights and choices. You will approve the text of your ceremony; there will be no surprises! On the day of your ceremony, I speak with all other professionals involved and I prepare attendants and family members for the processional. I am responsible for prompting and cuing all aspects of the ceremony, from the readings to the exchange of vows. I will perform your ceremony with joy and warmth. I sign your Marriage License and file your Marriage License, as legally required of me.




Our ceremony is going to 'short and sweet.' We have already written it. We will need you for only 10 minutes. How much will we have to pay you for this short amount of time?


Asking for a ‘short and sweet’ ceremony does not decrease my fee. I do not offer a standard ceremony for one price and a personalized ceremony for a higher price.

A ceremony is not just 15 minutes; there is so much more involved in the actual ceremony and planning process! Couples benefit from my experience in creating ceremonies and my familiarity and awareness of how things should flow.

Some Officiants do charge less than I do for their service. Some Officiants charge more than I. It is good that the wedding market has a variety of options for couples. I offer the same attention, care, concern and respect to all of the couples I work with, whether you are having a ceremony in your living room or at a venue surrounded by 200 guests.

When you work with me, you are securing my services for your special day. I do not schedule two ceremonies on the same day; some Officiants will schedule more ceremonies on one day, but I am not comfortable with this. I will not be rushing to arrive at your event or upset if things are running late. When a couple secures my services for their special day, I make a commitment to them for their day. I arrive 30 - 45 minutes before a ceremony on the special day and I wait until all is ready.




Do you provide any prayers or meal blessings at the reception?


This is an 'extra' that I offer couples, if I am able to and I do not charge for this. I need to know this at least 8 - 12 weeks in advance for planning purposes related to childcare arrangements, travel, etc. (My availability to do this is not guaranteed at time couple books me, unless this is explicitly request at time of booking.)




Do you perform other ceremonies, besides wedding ceremonies?


Yes, I do! I perform Vow Renewals, Baby Blessings/ Baptism ceremonies, and Funerals or Memorial Services.

I also perform ceremonies for couples who are eloping or having an intimate ceremony.

I am also comfortable with providing a Blessing for a new home. Email me for sample ceremonies, and to discuss ideas, arrangements and fees.




How soon before our special day should we book an Officiant?


Every couple approaches the planning process differently. Some couples plan their wedding over a year or two years. Some plan their celebration in just a few weeks or months. If you are really interested in my services, please reach out to me at your earliest convenience. I do have some books for late 2021 already. If you are just getting around to finding an Officiant and your special day is just six weeks away, reach out to me! You never know- my calendar may be open!




My wedding is coming up soon. Can I book you last minute?


Yes! It's worth checking with me. I've worked with couples who have only weeks before the wedding and are still looking for an officiant. We'll work on all of the details and plan a meaningful ceremony. Your guests won't know whether you planned your ceremony a year in advance or just days before.




Why should we use a professional Officiant? Why are your fees so expensive?


You don't have to take my word for it, check out the links before for great answers to this question. Please refer to this WeddingWire article for more information on the topic, Why a Wedding Officiant Costs THAT Much. https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/why-a-wedding-officiant-costs-that-much This is the best explanation that I have found on why you should hire a professional officiant. From the blog of a the Georgia Wedding Venue, Pepper Sprout Barn: https://www.peppersproutbarn.com/blog-1/hiring-a-wedding-officiant A quote from a blog post says it best, "The pros are used to talking in front of people. New faces and crowds do not make them nervous. Professionals can help create a beautiful, unique, personal ceremony just for you. You won’t have to rely on a basic template that anyone can find in an online search. They have a tried and true system for creating ceremonies. They can share personal collections of verses, prayers, readings that suit your style. They can save you hours of researching online. With the ceremony they create for you, there are no missing parts and often they will give you a professional copy of the final script, something that will be a forever keepsake. Imagine your kids reading it one day or incorporating it into their wedding and you have it if you ever renew your vows. They’ve made mistakes and have learned from them. Years of experience cannot be discounted. Think of that classic saying, “you get what you pay for”. Professional wedding officiants know how to navigate changes, bumps and interruptions that come with a wedding day. Crying kids, loud noises outside, a coughing guest are just a few possibilities."
From The Knot, Why You Should Hire A Professional Ceremony Officiant: https://www.theknot.com/content/why-you-should-hire-a-professional-ceremony-officiant.. From The International Association Of Professional Wedding Officiants, Why Hire A Professional Officiant: https://iapwo.org/articles/why-hire-a-professional-officiant/




Do you require any pre-marital or religious classes for couples being married?


I do not require any pre-marital counseling or religious class preparations of the couples that I marry. I approach the couples I work with as being confident and mature adults who are making a commitment based on many things; I do not feel it appropriate to question or judge the reasons for such a commitment.

I appreciate that many traditions and ministers do require preparation before a wedding. In the way that I work with couples, I do not feel it is realistic to expect participation in classes or instruction.

I have provided pre-marital coaching/ counseling to couples, at their request I do charge an additional fee for this.





Wedding Ceremony

Is a wedding rehearsal necessary?


There is no simple answer to this question. A rehearsal is a personal choice that a couple needs to consider. A rehearsal may be helpful if you have a large Wedding Party. Rehearsals provide a Wedding Party with direction related to their role during a ceremony. Rehearsals can be chaotic if they are not organized. Rehearsals are also another opportunity for family 'drama' to occur. A rehearsal could also prevent drama on the day of your wedding. A couple needs to reflect on what they need for their ceremony to go smoothly. Many couples feel it is not necessary for an Officiant to attend the rehearsal if they are working with an experienced Event/ Wedding Planner. An Event Planner/ Staff person from the venue can run a rehearsal and provide support to you and to your bridal party. My participation and attendance is an additional cost. I discuss and review this with couples at the time they request information about my attendance and participation.




Can you marry us in a church?


I am able to and have performed weddings in churches; however, due to professional courtesy, I do not typically perform weddings in church settings. Consider a stranger coming into your home and hosting a party while you are not there. Weddings are 'parties' that, if held in a church, should be hosted by the pastor of the church. Most traditional churches or houses of worship are available for church members only. Some communities of faith may be willing to rent their facilities. Unitarian Universalist churches and the Religious Society of Friends/Quaker Meeting Houses may be places for you to contact. Use a search engine for more information if you wish to pursue this. You may also consider university or college chapels for your ceremony. Some institutions of higher learning make their chapels available to alumni and family, while others rent their chapels for weddings and other events. *I can and will perform ceremonies in church settings mentioned above.




What is a civil ceremony? Do you perform civil ceremonies?


I do perform civil ceremonies. A civil ceremony does not have to incorporate or include any reference to God. A Judge, Justice of the Peace or a Mayor can perform civil ceremonies. I am legally able to 'officiate' or preside at any ceremony. I choose to perform ceremonies that reflect the values of a couple. Thus, I will perform a civil ceremony because I believe that couples should have a ceremony that reflects who they are and what they believe. I incorporate the wishes and hopes of the couple.




Do we need programs for our wedding ceremony? Do you provide programs?


Programs are not necessary. Some couples use programs or bulletins express words of gratitude, and to even inform their guests of who members of the Wedding party are. For example- Best Man, John Smith, Cousin of the Groom. Some programs or bulletins also serve as a wedding favor. Some couples think of bulletins as a souvenir for their guests.

Most wedding ceremonies that I perform do not often have readings or prayers that would require guests to respond to or repeat.

If you are interested in having a program available for guests, I can provide you with the 'right' words to list the components of your ceremony. I can share examples of programs from other ceremonies.

I do not provide programs. I do not provide any accessories associated with a ceremony, such as linens for a table, Unity Ceremony accessories or a sound amplification system.




We want to have a Sand Ceremony. Do we get the necessary items or do you provide them?


I do not provide any accessories for wedding ceremonies. If you want to include a Sand Ceremony or any other Unity Ceremony or Ritual, you are responsible for securing the needed items. I do not provide programs. I do not provide a microphone and/ or sound amplification equipment. I do not provide music. I do not provide table linens or a table.




Where do you perform wedding ceremonies?


I perform ceremonies in hotels, reception halls, country clubs, parks, college/ university chapels, and in private homes. Inside or outside, it is your choice! One of my favorite ceremonies was performed at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, right next to the penguin exhibit. I have performed many ceremonies outside in all sorts of weather and all year round, including January.




Can you say a prayer at the reception? Do we need to have a prayer or blessing?


I can certainly do this. This is an 'extra' that I offer couples, if I am able to and I do not charge for this. I need to know this at least 8 - 12 weeks in advance for my planning purposes related to childcare arrangements, travel, etc. (My availability to do this is not guaranteed at time couple books me, unless this is explicitly requested at time of the booking.) It is not necessary to have a prayer or blessing at your reception. It is a practice or tradition in some families. A family member or friend can also offer this.




How do we personalize our wedding ceremony with you?


I share planning resources with couples and I listen to couples. I ask questions that allow me to learn more about couples. In listening to couples, I learn more about them. I use questionnaires to collect some information and also gather more about a couple when we meet. I find ways to put 'their hopes, their beliefs and their love' into a ceremony. Personalized a wedding ceremony is an important part of the work I do with couples. I share planning resources with couples. These resources include readings, ceremony wording options and ideas on Unity Ceremonies.I am willing to create, adapt and re-arrange things to suit the hopes and needs of a couple. I will write and research options for couples. If you are not religious, we do not need to include religious language in the ceremony. If you are hoping to include your children, we can work to find meaningful and simple ways to include them. I want to know how old they are, how comfortable they are with being in front of other people and how you want to include them.




Are there opportunities for friends or family members to participate in the ceremony?


I welcome the participation of family members and friends. A ceremony will have greater meaning to the couple and guests iif loved ones are included. Music, prayers and readings are a great way to expand the participation in a ceremony.




How do you handle a complicated family situation?


I have seen and worked with many different types of families. Early in our work together I ask couples questions that give me a greater understanding of a family situation. I can offer suggestions and give insights as to what to do and how to work around chaotic and complex family dynamics. I am comfortable being the person who 'sets the standards' for a rehearsal or a wedding and how things are done.




Do you charge extra if I want to include a Sand Ceremony or another Unity Ceremony in my wedding ceremony?


No, I do not charge extra! I have already committed to being a part of your wedding ceremony. Including a Unity Ceremony does not change my time commitment to you. I make a commitment to you on your special day. The number of words that I offer does not increase or decrease the cost of my services. *I do not provide the supplies or accessories for a Unity Ceremony. Couples are responsible for these items.




How long is a wedding ceremony? How long are the ceremonies that you perform?


Most wedding venues plan for a wedding ceremony to be completed within a thirty minute window of time. I have found that this is a very reasonable amount of time to work with. The half hour involves the seating of guests, the entrance of the family, Wedding Party and the couple, the actual ceremony part where I talk AND the exit of the Wedding Party, family and couple. The actual length of the ceremony is best considered against the backdrop of other wedding celebration factors. If a couple has ten guests for their ceremony, the actual ceremony will be shorter and more compact because there is far less formality and fuss for such a gathering. If a couple has fifty or one hundred guests, it is important that a ceremony feel meaningful and not rushed. A ten minute or fifteen minute ceremony is perfect for this typeof gathering. If a couple has a Wedding Party that is large, over ten people involved, I strongly recommend that a ceremony be fifteen to twenty minutes in length. I believe that the actual ceremont 'talking part' should balance the entrance. When a large Wedding Party enters a ceremony site, it feels like a parade and I feel that a ceremony that is too concise feels odd.




Do have any restrictions on photographers or videographers can do during a ceremony?


Never! You have made the decision as to who you want to capture the memories of your special day. I will work with all of the professionals you have chosenand/ or the loved ones who are assisting you.




We want to add something extra or different to our ceremony. We just don't know what. Do you have any ideas? Do you charge extra for this?


have had the privilege of working with many couples who included something special or extra in their wedding ceremony. Whether it is the presentation of Roses to Mothers, the lighting of a Unity Candle or including a Wine Ceremony, there are simple ways and creative ways to add personality and meaning to your ceremony.

I have a collection of resources and will share them with you during the planning process. I am thrilled when couples want to create their own and will work with you to meet your goal!

I do not charge extra for the addition of any special ceremony or ritual to your ceremony





Officiant Stuff

Can you legally perform ceremonies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?


Yes, I can! I am an ordained Minister of the United Church of Christ. This Protestant denomination is recognized legally within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a 'regularly established church.’ I am also able to perform weddings in New Jersey.

Within Pennsylvania, I am authorized to "solemnize marriages between persons that produce a marriage license issued under this part: a minister, priest or rabbi of any regularly established church or congregation.” (Paraphrase of PA Marriage Law 1503 (A) (6).

Those ordained online are NOT CLEARLY recognized within Pennsylvania to legally officiate weddings as they were not ordained by a 'regularly established church of congregation."

If individuals choose to be married by someone other than those listed as an ordained minister of a regularly established congregation OR a civil official authorized by PA law, the burden of proof regarding legality (or lack thereof) is on the individuals involved should future issues arise.

In Two Pennsylvania Counties there are Two Contrasting Rulings about Marriages Performed by Person Ordain over the Internet.

1- On September 7, 2008 the Court of Common Pleas of York County rendered an opinion that persons ordained over the internet are not persons who may legally marry individuals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The case is filed in the office of the Prothonotary of York County to No. 2007-SU-002132-Y08. The opinion should be available from the York County Prothonotary

2- December 3, 2008 ruling by Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, a marriage performed by an internet-ordained minister has been declared valid. The case is filed in the office of the Prothonotary of Bucks County to No. 08-1620-29-1.The opinion should be available from the Bucks County Prothonotary.

Please read this document provided by the Register of Wills of Mercer County, Pennsylvania on this matter. This document is given to couples who apply for a license in that county as recently as March 2020.

.https://www.mcc.co.mercer.pa.us/registerofwills/Disclaimer.Marriage.License.Officiants.pdf

I have also performed weddings in New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut; my credentials are valid in all fifty states. *In some areas, Officiants must register with local authorities to perform a ceremony. I can register to do so.




What is a Wedding Officiant?


I think Wikipedia has the best definition of what an Officiant actually is. Wikipedia states, "An Officiant is someone who officiates at (i.e. leads) a service or ceremony, such as marriage, burial, or name giving/baptism. Officiants may be ordained by any denomination as members of their clergy, or by secular/Humanist or Interfaith/Inter-spiritual religious bodies. Officiants differ from Chaplains in that Officiants serve the unaffiliated public at large, while Chaplains are usually employed by an institution such as the military, a hospital or other health care facility, etc. The term “Officiant” also includes Minister, Priest, Justices of the Peace, Celebrants, Notaries, and other people empowered by law to perform legally-binding private ceremonies."




Where do you perform wedding ceremonies?


I perform ceremonies in hotels, reception halls, country clubs, parks, college/ university chapels, and in private homes. Inside or outside, it is your choice! I have performed many ceremonies outside in all sorts of weather and all year round, including January. Some of my favorite ceremonies have been performed in non-traditional settings. I have recently performed a wedding at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. Another favorite ceremony I performed was at the Lehigh Valley Zoo, right next to the penguin exhibit. The penguins watched the whole event.




What areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey do you work in?


I perform personalized ceremonies in Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery and Northampton Counties of Pennsylvania. In New Jersey, I will perform weddings in Hunterdon, Mercer, Sussex and Warren and Counties. Travel beyond these arease can be discussed and arranged.




Can we talk to couples that you have married?


It makes perfect sense to want to talk to couples that I have married. I can give you the phone number and/ or email of a number of couples ories familthat I have worked with in the past year I am very comfortable providing you with this information. You can read unsolicited and unedited reviews about many Officiants on WeddingWire.com. You can read 183 reviews about my services there. I am listed as Heart Ceremonies: Rev. Stephanie Anne Thompson. It is because of these reviews that I have been awarded Wedding Wire's prestigious Coupless Choice Aware in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. You can also find reviews of my services on The Knot and on my Facebook page, Heart Ceremonies: Rev. Stephanie Anne Thompson.





How do you work with our other wedding vendors, such as our photographer, event staff, etc.?


I am committed to working cooperatively and in a positive manner with all of the professionals a couple has involved in their wedding day. I make sure to introduce myself to all other professionals on the day of a event. I will contact other professionals before the special day, as necessary and with the permission of the couple. It is always my intention to honor the plans and hopes of the family or couple I am working with.




Do you have any restrictions as to our attire, or our Wedding party's attire?


I do not have any restrictions. (I guess my only request is for clothing, if I am being completely honest.) I do not dress in costume for weddings, but a couple and their Wedding party can certainly dress in costume or have a specific theme for their attire.




Do we invite you to the reception or rehearsal dinner?


No, you certainly do not have to invite me to your reception. I am honored when couples invite me to their wedding celebration. My typical practice is to decline




Can you say a prayer at the reception? Do we need to have a prayer or blessing?


I can certainly do this. This is an 'extra' that I offer couples, if I am able to do this, I do not charge for this. I need to know this at least 8 - 12 weeks in advance for my planning purposes related to childcare arrangements, travel, etc. (My availability to do this is not guaranteed at time couple books me, unless this is explicitly requested at time of the booking.) It is not necessary to have a prayer or blessing at your reception. It is a practice or tradition in some families. A family member or friend can also offer this.




What do you wear for the ceremony?


I typically wear a celebrant's robe, which is similar to an academic robe. My robe is black and I wear a simple stole over it. A stole is like a long scarf. I wear either a white stole or one that fits the colors and theme of the ceremony. Neither the robe nor the stole have any religious symbols upon them. I can also wear a suit or suitable professional clothing. I am sorry I do not dress in costume for weddings. Please see below for an idea of what I typically wear for a ceremony. Also, please look at the collection of pictures through this website for a sense of what I wear. Robe With No Stole




What do we call you?


I prefer to be called Stephanie;. Some Event Planners, Wedding Professionals and venue staffcall me “Reverend Stephanie.” You can choose which one of these is more comfortable for you. "Reverend' and 'Pastor' are terms that indicate a role or job. These terms do have great meaning and value but in the work that I do as Heart Ceremonies, I prefer to be called Stephanie. I use my legal name (Stephanie Anne Thompson) in all of my publicity.




We are interested in working with you. What happens if you are already booked on our wedding day?


If I am not available on your wedding day, I will share the names of other colleagues with you. These colleagues are recommended because I believe they offer the same high quality, personal, professional and caring service.




Do you require any pre-marital or religious classes for couples being married?


I DO NOT require any pre-marital counseling or religious classes of the couples that I marry. I approach the couples I work with as being mature adults who are making a commitment based on many things. I do not feel it necessary to question or judge the reasons for such a commitment. While I appreciate that many traditions and ministers do require some sort of preparation before a ceremony, I do not. In the way that I work with couples I do not feel it is realistic to expect or demand participation in classes or instruction. I have provided pre-marital coaching/ counseling to couples, at their request. I do charge an additional fee for this.




Can you marry us in a church?


I am able to and have performed weddings in churches; however, due to professional courtesy, I do not typically perform weddings in church settings. Consider a stranger coming into your home and hosting a party while you are not there. Weddings are 'parties' that, if held in a church, should be hosted by the pastor of the church. Most traditional churches or houses of worship are available for church members only. Some communities of faith may be willing to rent their facilities. Unitarian Universalist churches and the Religious Society of Friends/Quaker Meeting Houses may be places for you to contact. Use a search engine for more information if you wish to pursue this. You may also consider university or college chapels for your ceremony. Some institutions of higher learning make their chapels available to alumni and family, while others rent their chapels for weddings and other events. *I can and will perform ceremonies in settings mentioned above.




How early do you arrive one the day of the wedding?


I arrive 45 minutes to 30 minutes before a wedding ceremony.




How soon before our special day should we book an Officiant?


Every couple approaches the wedding celebration planning process differently. Many couples plan their wedding ceremony once they are engaged. Some couples plan their wedding ceremony once they book their venue. Some couples plan their celebration over a year or two years. Some plan their celebration in just a few weeks or months. If you are really interested in my services, please reach out to me at your earliest convenience. I do have some books for late 2020 already. If you are just getting around to finding an Officiant and your special day is just six weeks away, reach out to me! You never know- my calendar may be open! Whatever works for you is best!




How long have you been a Wedding Officiant? How long have you been performing wedding ceremonies?


I was ordained in 1997. I have been performing wedding ceremonies since then. I am experienced and professional. I am not a novice or a hobbyist. I have performed over 1200 wedding ceremonies in the past twenty three years. I love what I do. I love to witness laughter and love. I'm recommended by top locations and other wedding professionals.




What kind of ceremonies do you perform?


I perform meaningful ceremonies! I am comfortable performing a ceremony that is focused on what a couple wants I assist couples with traditional ceremonies, civil ceremonies and spiritual ceremonies. A ceremony can be as sentimental and emotional as a couple wants. Laughter and joy are appropriate to include as well. I perform civil ceremonies- ceremonies that have no religious or spiritual language. I perform spiritual or religious ceremonies- ceremonies that include references to God. I perform Interfaith ceremonies- ceremonies that weave different spiritual and faith practices into the ceremony.




Do you perform more than one ceremony a day?


I do not like to perform more than one ceremony on any given day. I am more comfortable with this. I have on occassion performed two ceremonies at the same venue on one day, but this is a rare event.




Do have any restrictions on photographers or videographers can do during a ceremony?


Never! You have made the decision as to who you want to capture the memories of your special day. I will work with all of the wedding professionals you have chosen or the loved ones who are assisting you.




My friend was ordained online to perform our ceremony. Is this legal?


Are friends and family members with online ordinations legally able to perform marriage ceremonies in Pennsylvania? The legality of online ordinations is not clear in Pennsylvania.

I would recommend that you hire a professional and a legally recognized Officiant.

I can also work with you and perform a simple and brief elopement ceremony so that I am the legally recorded Officiant for your wedding AND you have your loved one perform your public ceremony.




Why should we use a professional Officiant?


As a professional Wedding Officiant, I am proud of the work that I have. I feel that the best answers to this questions can be found in the following articles, linked below. This is the best explanation that I have found on why you should hire a professional officiant. From the blog of a the Georgia Wedding Venue, Pepper Sprout Barn: https://www.peppersproutbarn.com/blog-1/hiring-a-wedding-officiant A quote from a blog post says it best, "The pros are used to talking in front of people. New faces and crowds do not make them nervous. Professionals can help create a beautiful, unique, personal ceremony just for you. You won’t have to rely on a basic template that anyone can find in an online search. They have a tried and true system for creating ceremonies. They can share personal collections of verses, prayers, readings that suit your style. They can save you hours of researching online. With the ceremony they create for you, there are no missing parts and often they will give you a professional copy of the final script, something that will be a forever keepsake. Imagine your kids reading it one day or incorporating it into their wedding and you have it if you ever renew your vows. They’ve made mistakes and have learned from them. Years of experience cannot be discounted. Think of that classic saying, “you get what you pay for”. Professional wedding officiants know how to navigate changes, bumps and interruptions that come with a wedding day. Crying kids, loud noises outside, a coughing guest are just a few possibilities."
From The Knot, Why You Should Hire A Professional Ceremony Officiant: https://www.theknot.com/content/why-you-should-hire-a-professional-ceremony-officiant.. From The International Association Of Professional Wedding Officiants, Why Hire A Professional Officiant: https://iapwo.org/articles/why-hire-a-professional-officiant/




What are your strengths?


I love what I do! I have an open mind and heart; I am approachable and non-judgmental. I never look down my nose at anyone because they are different than me. I welcome diversity and have learned much about life from the couples and families that I have worked with.

I accept and respect all lifestyles, cultures and belief paths. I am confident when speaking in public, but not arrogant about my work. I have a genuine concern and care for the couples and families that I work with. I partner couples and families to create meaningful ceremonies. I do not feel that I have all of the answers in life and so, I would be foolish if I did not open myself to learn from others and to therefore grow myself.




Do you perform non-religious ceremonies?


Yes! I focus on offering couples ceremonies that reflect their love and their philosophy. My motto, for wedding ceremonies, is and will continue to be, "The Heart of the Couple Is the Heart of the Ceremony.” I have the personal flexibility and professional ability to perform civil, religious and interfaith ceremonies.




Do you perform same sex wedding ceremonies and LGBTQ+ ceremonies?


Yes! I am honored to unite those who love one another in marriage. Love between two people deserves to be legally recognized and honored. Love is love!




Do I need a licensed priest or minister to perform my marriage ceremony?


You do need a legally recognized person to perform your wedding in the Commonwealth and Pennsylvania. PA law clearly states those who are recognized to officiate at marriage ceremonies. I am legally recognized in Pennsylvania to perform weddings. I was ordained in a 'regularly established church' and have performed over 1300 wedding ceremonies. If individuals choose to be married by someone other than those listed as an ordained minister of a regularly established congregation OR a civil official authorized by PA law, the burden of proof regarding legality (or lack thereof) is on the individuals involved should future issues arise that require a determination of the marriage's validity. In Two Pennsylvania Counties there are Two Contrasting Rulings about Marriages Performed by Person Ordain over the Internet. 1- On September 7, 2008 the Court of Common Pleas of York County rendered an opinion that persons ordained over the internet are not persons who may legally marry individuals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The case is filed in the office of the Prothonotary of York County to No. 2007-SU-002132-Y08. The opinion should be available from the York County Prothonotary. 2- December 3, 2008 ruling by Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, a marriage performed by an internet-ordained minister has been declared valid. The case is filed in the office of the Prothonotary of Bucks County to No. 08-1620-29-1.The opinion should be available from the Bucks County Prothonotary.




Can you explain why your ordination is legal?


My ordination is legally recognized in Pennsylvania without any doubt of its legality. I am 'the real deal.' I am an ordained Protestant Minister and I choose to perform ceremonies for all who want to be married. I respect the beliefs and traditions of the couples I work with. I perform weddings because I love supporting couples in the creation and sharing of a personalized ceremony. I do not impress or stress my own faith beliefs or traditions on the couples that I work with. I focus on the couple and what their hopes and intentions are. I am able to do this because couples are not asking me to marry them in a church. I assist couples with their wedding ceremonies because I believe that EVERYONE deserves to have a professional help them create and perform a meaningful ceremony.

  • I was not ordained online.
  • I was not ordained just for the fun of it.
  • I was not ordained just to make some quick money.
  • I was not ordained because my cousin asked me to perform her wedding.
  • I am not ordained by the Universal Life Church or American Marriage Ministries.

I am an ordained Protestant Minister in the United Church of Christ. This Protestant denomination is recognized legally within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a 'regularly established church.’ II am able to perform weddings in New Jersey. I have also performed weddings in New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut; my credentials are valid in all fifty states. In some locations it is necessary for a wedding officiant to register prior to performing a ceremony and I can certainly do this.




Do you perform other ceremonies, besides wedding ceremonies?


Yes, I do! I perform Weddings, Baby Blessings/ Baptism ceremonies, Funerals or Memorial Services. I am also comfortable with providing a Blessing for a new home. Contact me for more information, to discuss ideas, arrangements and fees. Email me at info@heartceremonies.com for samples and information.




How long have you been performing weddings?


I was ordained in 1997 and have performed wedding ceremonies since that time. In 2002 I performed a wedding at Stroudsmoor Country Inn in Stroudsburg, PA and this began my journey as an intentional Wedding Officiant.




How many wedding ceremonies have you performed?


I have performed over twelve hundred wedding ceremonies in the past twenty three years.




My wedding is coming up soon. Can I book you last minute?


Yes! It's worth checking with me. I've worked with couples who have only weeks before the wedding and are still looking for an officiant. We'll work on all of the details and plan a meaningful ceremony. Your guests won't know whether you planned your ceremony a year in advance or just days before.




We are an Interfaith couple. How do you feel about working with us?


I welcome the opportunity to work with interfaith couples! I want to include meaningful elements for you- the couple being married!

I am well versed in religious aspects of ceremonies and am sensitive to including culturally appropriate components. As a Christian myself, I am confident offering prayers from a variety of Christian traditions. I am not comfortable offering a Hebrew blessing in the Hebrew language. However, I would certainly encourage a couple to include the breaking of a glass at the end of their ceremony as a nod to their Jewish faith and culture.

I have worked with couples that wanted to include Hindu elements and traditions in their ceremony. I have worked with couples who wanted to incorporate Native American traditions and beliefs in the ceremony. Working together, we incorporated elements of their religious traditions and cultural rituals in their ceremonies.




Do you require any pre-marital or religious classes for couples being married?


I do not require any pre-marital counseling or religious class preparations of the couples that I marry. I approach the couples I work with as being confident and mature adults who are making a commitment based on many things; I do not feel it appropriate to question or judge the reasons for such a commitment.

I appreciate that many traditions and ministers do require preparation before a wedding. In the way that I work with couples, I do not feel it is realistic to expect participation in classes or instruction.

I have provided pre-marital coaching/ counseling to couples, at their request I do charge an additional fee for this.





Wedding License Info

Who applies for the wedding license?


In all states, the couple being married apply for the wedding license. A couple must apply for a wedding license in person and the two applicants must be together when the application is made.




What are the Pennsylvania requirements for securing a wedding license?


Applicants that wish to be legally married in the state of Pennsylvania must first apply for a marriage license application at their nearest Marriage License Bureau of the Register of Wills and complete the application process. You do not need to apply for the license in the county where you are getting married. You can apply in the county where you live or a county where family live. You need a Pennsylvania license- that is what is the most important fact. Minimum age to marry in Pennsylvania is 15. Minors must have both the written approval of a judge of the Orphans’ Court Division of the Common Pleas and a written consent from a parent or legal guardian. Both residents and non-residents of Pennyslvania can apply to be married in the state. Legal age to apply for a marriage license in Pennsylvania is 18 Under PA Marriage License laws Requirements. Applicants should take the necessary steps to obtain a Marriage License AT LEAST 2 to 3 weeks before the scheduled date of their marriage ceremony. Both applicants seeking a marriage license must appear together in person at the Marriage License Bureau of the Register of Wills office to complete the process. Photo identification is required in PA Marriage License laws Requirements. A driver's license, state issued photo id or a passport will satisfy this requirement. Marriage license fees vary from county to county. The fees vary from $40 to $85. Please call the county Register of Wills in which you will be applying for their fees and other requirements. There is a three (3) day waiting period from the completion of the application process to the issuance of the license. A marriage license is valid for 60 days from date it is issued.




What are the New Jersey requirements for securing a wedding license?


Both New Jersey residents and non-residents can apply for a New Jersey marriage licens. However, non-residents must apply for a license within the same municipality where they will be married, while residents may apply in any New Jersey municipality. To apply for a New Jersey marriage license, you must go to your local Registrar's office and provide the following information and documents: 1. Completed, but unsigned, application for a New Jersey marriage license 2. Proof of identity, such as a driver's license, passport or other official US ID 2. Social security card or number 4. A witness, 18 years or older 5. A $28 fee Once this step is completed, there is a 72-hour waiting period that must elapse before the wedding ceremony takes place, and the marriage license is valid for six months thereafter. To complete your marriage license, you must marry and have an approved New Jersey wedding officiant complete and return your marriage license.




Is there a central registry of marriage in PA?


There is not a central registry of marriages in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, records of marriage licenses are maintained only in the county where you applied for the license. If you applied in Monroe County but were married in another county within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, your records would only be in Monroe County. You can be married in another county though!




We are getting married on a cruise, island, or in another state/country. Where do we get our marriage license?


You must get your license in the State or country where the marriage will take place. Check with your travel agent for requirements.




Why do I need to provide my SSN (social security number) to apply for a marriage license?


The 1996 Federal Welfare Reform Act requires the verified Social Security number of an individual (who has one) in order to apply for a marriage license. It's a federal law that you must provide your Social Security number in exchange for a marriage license, so every state must comply whether it agrees with the edict or not.




What happens if I do not have a SSN?


A Social Security number is absolutely required to obtain a marriage license if you are a U.S. Citizen. If you are not a citizen, you can still obtain a marriage license with comparable documents.

Go to the state or county office where you need to apply for a marriage license.

If you are a U.S. citizen, present your driver's license or state identification card and your Social Security number when asked. If you are a U.S. citizen and do not know your Social Security number, you must obtain one. It is legally required that you have a Social Security number to be married in the U.S.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, present a picture identification card and your birth certificate (translated to English).

Although it may not be required, you should be prepared to present your passport as well.

Once all documents have been verified, you will receive your marriage license.




Does Pennsylvania recognize common-law marriages?


NO. PA courts have ruled common-law marriages after September 17, 2003 are invalid for the state of Pennsylvania.




Can you explain your ordination status?


My ordination is legally recognized in Pennsylvania without any doubt of its legality. I am 'the real deal.' I am an ordained Protestant Minister and I choose to perform ceremonies for all who want to be married. I respect the beliefs and traditions of the couples I work with. I perform weddings because I love supporting couples in the creation and sharing of a personalized ceremony. I do not impress or stress my own faith beliefs or traditions on the couples that I work with. I focus on the couple and what their hopes and intentions are. I am able to do this because couples are not asking me to marry them in a church.

  • I was not ordained online.
  • I was not ordained just for the fun of it.
  • I was not ordained just to make some quick money.
  • I was not ordained because my cousin asked me to perform her wedding.
  • I am not ordained by the Universal Life Church or American Marriage Ministries.
I assist couples with their wedding ceremonies because I believe that EVERYONE deserves to have a professional help them create and perform a meaningful ceremony.

I am an ordained Protestant Minister in the United Church of Christ. This Protestant denomination is recognized legally within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a 'regularly established church.’ II am able to perform weddings in New Jersey. I have also performed weddings in New Hampshire, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut; my credentials are valid in all fifty states.




Do I need a licensed priest or minister to perform my marriage ceremony?


You do need a legally recognized person to perform your wedding in the Commonwealth and Pennsylvania. PA law clearly states those who are recognized to officiate at marriage ceremonies. I am legally recognized in Pennsylvania to perform weddings. I was ordained in a 'regularly established church' and have performed over 1300 wedding ceremonies. If individuals choose to be married by someone other than those listed as an ordained minister of a regularly established congregation OR a civil official authorized by PA law, the burden of proof regarding legality (or lack thereof) is on the individuals involved should future issues arise that require a determination of the marriage's validity. In Two Pennsylvania Counties there are Two Contrasting Rulings about Marriages Performed by Person Ordain over the Internet. 1- On September 7, 2008 the Court of Common Pleas of York County rendered an opinion that persons ordained over the internet are not persons who may legally marry individuals in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The case is filed in the office of the Prothonotary of York County to No. 2007-SU-002132-Y08. The opinion should be available from the York County Prothonotary. 2- December 3, 2008 ruling by Judge C. Theodore Fritsch Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, a marriage performed by an internet-ordained minister has been declared valid. The case is filed in the office of the Prothonotary of Bucks County to No. 08-1620-29-1.The opinion should be available from the Bucks County Prothonotary.





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610.762.9137

 

EMAIL:  info@heartceremonies.com

MAILING ADDRESS

Stephanie Anne Thompson

Heart Ceremonies

P O Box 57,

Perkasie PA 18944

Rev. Stephanie Anne Thompson is an award-winning Wedding Officiantat.  Stephanie is also an ordained minister.  She also performs Elopements, Vow Renewals, Baby Blessings, Baptisms, House Blessings, Memorial Services and Funerals. She brings over twenty years of experience to her work. Located in Bucks County, Pennsylvaia, she works in Eastern Pennsylvania and portions of New Jersey. Heart Ceremonies is more than just a cute phrase;  it is an expression of Stephanie's approach to her work.

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Creating & Performing

Meaningful & Personalized  Ceremonies:

  • Wedding Ceremonies 

  • LGBTQ+  Wedding Ceremonies

  • Vow Renewals

  • Elopements

  • Intimate Wedding Ceremonies

  • Baby Blessings/ Baptisms

  • Memorial Services &  Funerals

Services Available 

In Pennsylvania:   

Berks, Bucks, Carbon,

Chester, Lehigh,

Monroe, Montgomery & Northampton Counties

 

Services Also Available 

In New Jersey: 

Hunterdon, Mercer, Sussex 

& Warren Counties

Travel beyond these areas

can be discussed and arranged.

©2020 Stephanie Anne Thompson, Heart Ceremonies   All rights reserved.  Content canned be reproduced in any format without written permission.

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